[July 10, 2016] Updated Opening Article by GM Boris Avrukh:
June 2015 Revisited: Sicilian Defense, Keres Attack with 7… h6

In the originally published version of this article our game of the week was V. Anand – M. Vachier-Lagrave, Stavanger (m/3) 2015, one of many fine examples of the great Indian’s incredible attacking prowess. This update does not bring such high-profile games, but new games from correspondence tournaments and engine rooms are nevertheless very fine additions and important contributions to modern opening theory.

[Diagram: White to Move] A. Linkov – T. Kain, corr. 2015. The diagrammed position shows a scenario that’s quite typical of this line: Black is playing a waiting game, hoping to launch a counterattack if his opponent’s pawn advance becomes too committal. Our suggested improvement for White is very human in its nature: its starts with subtle adjustments, followed by a direct pawn push that initiates a promising kingside attack.

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[July 09, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
French Defense, McCutcheon & Classical Variations, incl. Chatard-Alekhine Attack

[Line 340 : 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 without 4… dxe4]

After 4. Bg5, Black can basically choose among three popular lines: the Burn Variation (4… dxe4), covered in our Lines 341-342, Classical (4… Be7) and McCutcheon Variation (4… Bb4).

After 4… Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 Black needs to be well-prepared for a very complicated Chatard-Alekhine Attack 6. h4, as well as for calmer 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. f4. White has easier play, though Black has sufficient resources to get satisfactory positions.

In the McCutcheon Variation double-edged positions occur quite often, especially in the modern line after 4… Bb4 5. e5 h6 6. Be3 Ne4 7. Qg4. White often sacrifices a pawn, but in return either black King has to stay in the center if he defends the g7-pawn with 7… Kf8, or his kingside becomes weak after 7… g6 or 7… g5. In our opinion, the best choice is probably 7… g6, though after 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nxc3 10. Bd3 White has at least sufficient compensation.

[Diagram: White to Move] This position has appeared even in a few grandmasters games: last Black’s move was careless h6-h5, and White’s accurate reaction, based on a sequence of precise moves, can guarantee him a longterm advantage.

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[July 08, 2016] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Queen’s Indian Defense, Fianchetto Traditional

[Line 214 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

Traditional Fianchetto in the Queen’s Indian Defense is still very popular, although 4… Ba6 is a more frequent choice among top-level players.

After 5. Bg2, Black has an interesting sideline 5… Bb4+, which offers quite decent prospects.

Against the main 5… Be7, White usually plays 6. O-O, which is covered in our Lines 216-218, or 6. Nc3, where Black’s various reactions, apart from 6… Ne4 (Line 215) are in the focus of this opening line.

After 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Nc3 O-O our recommendation for club level players is 7. Bf4, while 7. Qc2 leads to more complex positions. Against the latter option Black can choose between the sharp 7… c5 8. d5 exd5 9. Nh4, and a bit more quiet 7… Na6 8. e4 d5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. e5 Ne4.

[Diagram: White to Move] The diagrammed position is from a famous game: V. Korchnoi – A. Karpov, Moscow (m/21) 1974. Karpov’s last move was Ra8-b8, missing his opponents threat. Korchnoi immediately pounced and converted his advantage to a full point in just a couple of moves!

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[July 07, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
King’s Indian Defense, Sämisch Variation – Normal Defense without 6… c5

[Line 154 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 without 6… c5]

Against 6. Be3 in the Sämisch Variation of KID, Black has a choice among various popular setups that are covered in this opening line, apart from 6… c5, which is covered in our Line 155.

In our opinion, the most promising alternative to 6… c5 is 6… Nc6, followed by a7-a6, Rb8 and b7-b5. White could fight it with 7. Qd2 a6 8. Nge2, with the idea to meet 8… Rb8 with 9. Rc1. However, Black has an interesting option in 8… Na5 9. Nc1 Nd7 10. Nb3 c5, with decent play.

The other heavily explored variation is 6… e5, where White can choose between 7. Nge2 and 7. d5. Though Black has a few ways to fight for counterplay, White should be able to gain a slight edge if he plays accurately.

For those who want to avoid lengthy theoretical discussions we recommend 6… a6, with the intention to proceed with c7-c6 and b7-b5.

[Diagram: Black to Move] Zhang Zhiyang – Li Shilong, Xinghua Jiangsu. Black’s Queen is trapped, but he has a hidden possibility to even secure a big advantage. How should he continue?

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[July 06, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation with 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7

[Line 251 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7 without 7. e3]

Since 7. e3 is covered in our Line 252, Line 251 deals with sidelines, as well as some other popular 7th move choices for White in the Ragozin Variation.

For instance, for club level players we recommend two interesting plans:

Out first recommendation is 7. Rc1 with e2-e3, Bd3 and O-O, since 7… c5 is not a particularly good answer, as it would be against 7. e3; i. e. after 7. Rc1 c5 8. dxc5 White gets the upper hand. However, Black can react by opting for 7. Rc1 c6 8. e3 Qa5, with good counterplay.

The other suggestion for White is the not too common 7. Qa4. In our opinion, Black should respond with 7… c5 8. dxc5 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3, with sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

The main variation of this opening line is 7. Qc2 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4. Black creates weaknesses on the kingside, but gets bishop pair as a compensation. The game could continue e.g. with 10. Nd2 Nxg3 11. hxg3 Nb6 12. a3 Bf8, like in a recent top-level game: M. Vachier Lagrave – A. Giri, Shamkir 2015.

[Diagram: White to Move] P. Eljanov – Y. Kryvoruchko, Rogaška Slatina 2011. Black’s last move was careless Rf8-e8, overlooking Eljanov’s strong response. How did White capitalize on his opponent’s mistake?

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[July 05, 2016] Updated Opening Line by Vadim Zvjaginsev:
Sicilian Defense, Richter-Rauzer Variation – Main Line with 7… a6

[Line 475 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6]

The Richter-Rauzer Variation has lost a lot of popularity over the last decade or two, but it still has its fair share of supporters even among grandmasters.

Line 475 deals with 7… a6 8. O-O-O, apart from 8… Bd7, which is covered in our Line 476.

Moves like 8… Qb6 or 8… Qc7 hardly offer satisfactory play to the players of Black, while 8… Be7 transposes to Line 473. Therefore, the focus of this line is 8… h6,  with the idea to unpin the knight on f6, since after 9. Bh4 Nxe4 Black has good prospects.

For club level players we recommend 9. Bf4 Bd7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. f3, and though Black has good chances to reach equality, White’s position is generally more pleasant.

In our opinion, White has two promising plans, but both of them demand considerable theoretical knowledge. 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bf4 d5 11. Qe3 is the main reason why Black’s setup with a6 & h6 is rarely played on top level. White usually continues with Be2, h2-h4 and Qg3, which allows him to seize the initiative in the middlegame rather easily.

The other highly recommendable plan for White is 9. Be3 Be7 10. f3, where after g2-g4 and h2-h4, White can exert serious pressure on the kingside.

[Diagram: White to Move] J. Klovans – S. Makarichev, Moscow 1983. White has a neat way to get considerable advantage – can you find it?

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